Walking from the L (Chicago metro) toward home— a friend’s apartment where I’m staying this week— I immediately notice two police officers quietly conversing on our street corner.
Crossing the street, I see the road leading to Dylan apartment is blocked off with cones and yellow plastic. I remember the curious text she sent me before, asking me to come in through the back porch, i.e. walk through the long alley instead of the front door.
I’d imagined it was because of some new furniture or other house-related issue.
Dylan had witnessed a shooting a couple of hours prior. She had jumped up when she heard gunshots and seen a couple young men in our street ducking behind cars. One clutched above his chest. He was shot.Police came and questioned her in the moments that followed. The violence was gang-related. There had been violence the last few weeks.
Though we never expected to see this violence on our street, though it scares me, this is ultimately why we’re here. This is what we have heard stories about throughout the summer training to be teachers in urban, title 1 schools.
Sitting in the living room alone (Dylan needed to get out of the house after that but I have too much work) I wonder about those young men in the street. We’ve seen them every day since we moved here last Saturday. “I have a feeling I’ll get to know those boys pretty well,” Dylan had stated as we walked from the house a day ago.
Later we learn the young man died and another is hurt. Senseless loss. There are noises outside. They’re probably just lightning, but I wonder about gunshots.
Senseless loss. A reality for so many of the students I have already taught this summer and will teach in the Fall.
Senseless loss. Earlier today I witnessed an inspiring English class at a charter school. The students, who had all failed classes during the year, engaged in debate about the U.S. tax policy, evolution and creationism. They read and analyzed Arthur Schnitzler’s “Lieutenant Gustl,” and considered themes of morality, honor and religion.
There is no issue with their intellect. They are brilliant, inspiring, sharp and witty. They’ve simply been neglected by our system. Failed by low expectations, lack of individual attention and and an alien curriculum. Caught in a chasm– the violence, poverty, friends and family with low levels of education on one side and the massive, sometimes impersonal, system of state standards and overworked teachers on the other.
“Where are you? What is the context for this?” You might ask. Last time you blogged we were debating shot-up Macbooks and Israel/Palestine. In a nutshell, I returned to Boston and graduated from Northeastern University. I moved to Chicago where I’m training through Teach for America to teach special education in Chicago public schools.
I’ve resisted blogging for a while. I’ve been busy. Plus, I’m still unsure that I want any additional information about my life on this blog.
This blog that I wished as a vehicle to share experience but that became solely focused on one event, or more accurately, one continuous saga filled with hatred and anger. While there are many parts worth discussing, debating and of course resolving, it was not occurring productively here.
Yet my life goes on. I have other stories to share. This is a way to communicate with family and friends across the country and world. This is for anyone else curious for a single perspective. For myself because I enjoy writing, and posting pictures. I enjoy expressing.
I will continue posting. Most content will likely revolve around my experiences teaching in Chicago public schools.